Adams vs. Reyna, Brooks vs. Union Berlin, and the FA Cup highlight weekend
January 08, 2021
IT IS STILL NOT quite a full weekend for Americans abroad as many league’s ae still off and the FA Cup makes playing time unpredictable in England, but the matchup in Germany between Tyler Adams and Gio Reyna is the deserved top billing.
Also enticing is John Brooks and Wolfsburg against Union Berlin as both clubs are even on points and fighting for a Champions League spot.
This preview and the Monday recap will certainly grow with the pending return of the Belgian, Austrian, and Danish leagues who are all still on their winter break. But this upcoming weekend will certainly see some potential fireworks with the biggest American players involved.
Here is what I will be watching in the days ahead.
RB Leipzig - Borussia Dortmund
Saturday, January 9: 12:30pm EST
The biggest game involving American players this weekend will take place on Saturday when Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig host Gio Reyna and Borussia Dortmund in a matchup between the league’s second and fourth-placed team. Six points separate the two and Leipzig is trying to remain in title contention just two points behind Bayern. Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, is trying to remain in the top four for a Champions League berth. So, a lot is on the line.
It is always tough to predict if Tyler Adams will start and if he does, whether it will be at his preferred right back or central midfield roles. Dortmund likes to play wide open soccer and that might favor the athletic Adams in the middle to be able to give a maximum 90 minutes.
Dortmund should be gaining momentum as Erling Haaland gets back into the swing of things after missing most of December. The Norwegian was rusty last weekend in a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg. For Reyna, he continues to adjust to the interim coaching staff but expectations should be higher as time passes.
But this game could offer a chance to see two members of the U.S. national team starting midfield in action in a high-profile Bundesliga game. This will be one to watch for obvious reasons.
Bayer Leverkusen - Werder Bremen
Saturday, January 9: 9:30am EST
Despite Werder Bremen dropping a 2-0 decision to Union Berlin last weekend, American forward Josh Sargent played well and was far more involved than in the weeks before the shortened winter break. Unfortunately, due to the loss, Werder is drifting into a relegation fight and now sits just four points from automatic safety in 14th place.
The games will now become more important for Werder Bremen and a visit to third-place Bayer Leverkusen makes it much harder to stay safe. But Leverkusen has lost two straight and lacks momentum despite being the favorite in this one.
Sargent has had some good games against the better Bundesliga teams and a big outing will be very welcome news to a struggling Werder Bremen team that needs points.
Union Berlin - Wolfsburg
Saturday, January 9, 9:30am EST
John Brooks had a mixed game last weekend for Wolfsburg in a 2-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund. He made a goal-line clearance and helped to keep Erling Haaland in check but was also partially at fault for the first Dortmund goal.
But this should be a great game with a lot on the line. Both teams are tied with 24 points – 5th in the league – and are just one point out of the Champions League spots. There is a good chance the winner in this one moves into the top three or four.
Brooks will need to be on his game as Union Berlin attack and its 29 goals are the second most tallies in the league.
Juventus – Sassuolo
Sunday, January 10 2:45pm EST
Since the start of December, Weston McKennie is in the midst of one of the best stretches of any American player in history. He has scored against Barcelona in the Champions League at Camp Nou, scored against Torino at the Allianz in the Derby della Mole, and on Wednesday he scored against AC Milan at San Siro in a matchup against the Serie A leaders.
He’s playing so well that you don’t want to pass up on the opportunity to watch him play and this should be a good one.
Reigning champions Juventus is on the rise but sits in fourth place after its rocky start to the season. This is just one point better than its opponent on Sunday – Sassuolo – which sits in fifth place in Italy’s top flight.
McKennie seizes the moments against good teams so expectations should be high – whether he starts or comes off the bench. Since he came off the bench against Milan on Wednesday, a start seems to be likely.
Granada – Barcelona
Saturday, January 9: 12:30pm EST
After a very poor start by its own lofty standards, Barcelona is back on track and has climbed from midtable and into third place of La Liga. U.S. national team right back Sergino Dest has been a lock starter for the club during its rise and while offensive fireworks haven’t always been there, the Dutch-born right back has been mostly error-free while being dependable on both sides of the ball. He earns a lot of touches and is a focal point of the game plan.
A visit to seventh-place Grenada won’t be easy but a win could close the five point gap it faces behind rival second place Real Madrid and the seven point gap behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
Real Valladolid – Valencia
Sunday, January 10: 3:00pm EST
New York-born midfielder Yunus Musah, 18, has shown extraordinary promise this season for Valencia but in recent weeks he has struggled as the entire Valencia team has been exceptionally disappointing in La Liga. Once one of Spain’s great teams, Valencia is only clear of the relegation playoff position on goal differential (while having played two more games). So it is firmly in a relegation battle.
Musah now has to deliver in games that are extremely important to his club and it would be a disaster if Valencia were to be relegated. The pressure is on Musah and his teams and Real Valladolid is only two points ahead of Valencia but is coming off a nice 1-0 win over Getafe in its most recent game.
FA Cup 3rd round
The FA Cup’s third round will be underway this weekend and it’s tough to predict. Will clubs field full strength teams? Will everyone be healthy? There are sure to be a lot of Americans involved over the next three days in the old tournament.
The game that has the most potential for American involvement will be on Saturday when Queens Park Rangers hosts Fulham in a London Derby. Fulham has two Americans in left back Antonee Robinson and Tim Ream who could play. Fulham had its previous two games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak and we will see the impacts, if any, in this one. Meanwhile, QPR has been struggling this season and might elect to rest its core – and perhaps team captain and former U.S. national team midfielder Geoff Cameron. U.S. U-20 forward Charlie Kelman might get an extended run if he is fit.
On Friday, Wolverhampton’s FA Cup matchup against Crystal Palace on Friday might be a good opportunity to give young American midfielder Owen Otasowie a chance at real minutes.
New Jersey native and right back Matthew Olosunde should see minutes for Rotherham United when it visits Everton on Saturday in an opportunity to build momentum in its Championship season.
Duane Holmes hasn’t played much for Derby County recently in the Championship but might start against Chorley on Saturday. If he does get the opportunity, it will be critical for him to play well to build a case for more minutes the rest of the season.
Cameron Carter-Vickers is still nearing fitness for AFC Bournemouth and might be in action when it visits Oldham Athletic on Saturday.
DeAndre Yedlin has had a good month to get back into Newcastle’s starting lineup and has a nice opportunity on Saturday away at Arsenal.
Zack Steffen has been starting in place of Ederson after a COVID-19 outbreak. Sunday’s game against Birmingham City seems like a good chance to continue to play Steffen before Ederson’s return.
Chelsea hosts Morecambe on Sunday and Christian Pulisic has played a lot recent for the Blues. The Hershey native might be given a rest.
Elsewhere around the globe
In the Bundesliga, Chris Richards should be on the bench for Bayern Munich when it visits Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday. Matthew Hoppe could start for last-place Schalke when it hosts Hoffenheim on Saturday. Timothy Chandler will be lucky to feature for Eintracht Frankfurt when it visits Mainz on Saturday. Manager Pellegrino Matarazzo will hope to reverse a two-game skid when his Stuttgart teams visits Augsburg.
In the 2.Bundesliga, Julian Green will start for Greuther Furth when it visits Karlsruher on Friday. Leon Flach, Kevin Lankford and relegation battling St. Pauli host Holstein Kiel on Saturday. Bobby Wood and Hamburg visit Nurnberg on Saturday. Jan George and Jahn Regensburg host Bochum on Sunday.
In the 3.Liga, Terrence Boyd and Hallescher visit Wehen Wiesbaden on Saturday. Manager Joe Enochs and FSV Zwickau host Lubeck on Sunday.
In France’s Ligue 1, Nimes host Tim Weah and Lille on Saturday. Weah has seen his minutes increase in recent games.
In Ligue 2, Nicholas Gioacchini and SM Caen host Toulouse on Monday.
In the Eredivisie, Uly Llanez and Heerenveen host Fortuna Sittard on Sunday. Luca de la Torre host Vitesse on Saturday.
In the second-tier Eerste Divisie, Sebastian Soto will start for Telstar as it hosts De Graafschap on Friday.
In Spain’s Segunda, Shaq Moore and Tenerife hosts FC Cartagena on Sunday.
In Turkey, Eric Lichaj is injured for Fatih Karagumruk when it hosts Konyaspor on Sunday in the Super Lig.
In England’s League One, Indiana Vassilev and last-place Burton Albion visit Gillingham on Saturday.
In Portugal’s top flight, Reggie Cannon should start for Boavista on Saturday against Santa Clara. The U.S. national team right back has started every game so far since Boavista.
In Scotland’s Premiership, Ian Harkes, Dillon Powers and Dundee United host St. Johnstone on Saturday.
Talleres is within one point from the top of Group B in the Copa Diego Maradona. Sunday's visit to Colon could see it move into first. This is a huge game for Talleres and its American midfielder Joel Sonora.
On Sunday, Alan Sonora and Independiente vsiit River Plate in Group A of the Copa Diego Maradona